‘Lionheart’ Smith back in win column following UFC Vegas 16
Anthony Smith submitted Devin Clark in the first round of their light heavyweight main event from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas Saturday, Nov. 28.
Smith locked in the triangle choke early in the bout’s opening round and was able to secure the victory at the 2:34 mark of the first five minutes.
It was the eighth submission win for Smith via choke.
About 24 hours before the start of the event, UFC President Dana White and company were forced to replace the card’s original main event.
Heavyweights Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis were slated to go a potential five rounds but a positive COVID-19 test for Blaydes postponed the big-time bout.
The main event slot was offered to both Smith and Clark, who both agreed.
It marked the seventh straight main event for Smith, going 3-3 in previous ones.
Smith is looking to return to the top of the division as a potential challenger and title threat.
On the other hand, it marked the first main event position for Clark.
Not to mention, Clark was entering the bout with a heavy heart following the loss of his mother-in-law, Judy Farmer.
While looking for his first signature win, Clark admitted Farmer’s wish was to see his first first-round stoppage in the UFC.
With Farmer having passed away Friday, Nov. 20, Clark felt no time would be better.
That said, Clark went right for the knockout from the outset of the fight.
Though he landed a big right hand that caught the attention of Smith, “Lionheart” was able to secure a body lock and take Clark to the ground.
While on the ground, the Black Belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu made quick work of the wrestler securing a triangle choke for his first win of the year.
Smith entered the bout as a -135 favorite attempting to fend off the +115 underdog that Clark was labeled.
After the fight, Smith admitted he felt the power of Clark but the goal was always to get to the body lock believing he could control the fight best from that position.
With the light heavyweight division the most open it’s been in years, any strong performance in the division can catch the eyes of UFC matchmakers.
Former longtime division champ, Jon Jones, relinquished the title in August while Jan Blachowicz claimed the belt after a knockout win over Dominick Reyes in September.
Blachowicz is slated to defend his belt against current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, though a timeframe has not been decided.
A couple of weeks ago, 41-year old former title contender Glover Teixeira submitted fellow former title contender Thiago Santos in the third round.
Smith is now 36-11 as a professional mixed martial artist, ending a skid of two straight lost fights.
With the loss, Clark is now 12-5 in his career with losses against Smith, Blachowicz and light heavyweight Aleksandar Rakîc.
Rakic also owns a win over Smith.